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Erie Lackawanna Railroad-Anatomy of The Friendly Service Route
Development of the Lackawanna Railroad
Erie Railroad Company and its development.
Decline and Fall of the ELRY
Why the Erie Lackawanna Failed
Links to My Other Sites
Phoebe Snow's Thru Trains
Old Reliable Fast Freight Service
The Niagara Frontier Operations
The Erie's Speedway
Bread Basket of the Erie
Route of The Erie Limited
The Road of Anthracite
EL Commuter Country
Friendly Service Route Overview

Here we will discuss a number of the main reasons why the Erie Lackawanna Railway Company failed and the merged railroad did not and could not succeed like it should have. As to the blame game for Erie Lackawanna's collapse, there is plenty of it to go around. A good deal of it results from the oppressive taxing policies of the states of New Jersey,New York,Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana and the full crew laws in effect in Indiana and New York.

The Erie Lackawanna Railway Company failed for a number of reasons.Among them was the heavy debt structure inherited from the Erie Railroad and its four trips through the bankruptcy wringer. Another was the lackluster, if not incompetent quality of the management team assembled at the time of the merger in 1960, with Erie personnel in overall charge of the operation. Still another was the oppressive taxing practices of the state of New Jersey, whose reluctance to recognize the railroad's commuter service as a public service deserving of public funds, and yet assessing exhorbitant taxes on railroad property, particularly that used in commuter passenger service. Yet it took William White's threatened shutdown of all commuter service in New Jersey to prod the Garden State into action, since the railroad's commuter equipment was aging and in dire need of replacement. In addition, the decline of the railroad's freight traffic base, weakened its ability to continue its through line passenger service, under which the US Post Office Department yanked the rug from when it begna to remove the mail from passenger trains and put it on trucks and planes thinking it would mean faster service for postal patrons, well, reality indicates that such is NOT the case. As the mail came off the passenger trains, the trains themselves disappeared from the nation's rails.
While piggyback service constituted 40% of the railroad's total freight business, it was not sufficiently profitable to make up for the deteriorating carload picture. Then there were the extra curricular hijinks engaged in by Gary White, Milton McGinness and other top railroad officials during inspection train trips of the railroad. As H. Roger Grant stated in ERIE LACKAWANNA, DEATH OF AN AMERICAN RAILROAD, according to documents available to him, each trip of the inspection train on the railroad as long as Gary White headed the operating department amounted to something akin to a whorehouse on wheels, once the train got under way. When Gary White's brother, Bill, took the throttle of Erie Lackawanna, Gary White, Milton McGinnes and other top officials in office at the time got sacked as Bill White proceeded to clean house as fast as he could. However, much of the damage had already been done and Erie Lackawanna Railroad suffered for it. Then there was the merger between the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad, which took place on February, 1,1968. This merger marked the beginning of the end for the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. As events turned out, the Erie Lackawanna Railroad proved to be more profitable to liquidate than to operate and one of the Trustees, Thomas F. Patton stated that the story had a happy ending as far as he was concerned. Today, the commuter trains in Northern New Jersey still roll, and they operate with new and more modeern equipment and some of the employees are still in NJ Transit service, but the Friendly Serfvice Route is but a memory and what a memory that is!

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